Boring week again, so straight onto the story I guess :D
Read Between the Lines - Part 4
Nikki’s mouth went dry. “Dead?” she squeaked, her focus becoming unnaturally clear. “He-he’s dead?”
“Yes, ma’m. Heart attack - he died in his sleep. He had officially been struck as a suspect.” There was a sigh, and Hopkins continued, “There’s not much else we can do for you, other than trace the manuscript back to the sender. Do you still have the manuscript?”
“No. I burned it. I didn’t want to see it anymore.” Nikki cursed inside her head, swearing and shouting as despair flooded her body. Artie was dead.
“Ah. Well, there’s nothing else we can do. I’m sorry. Just keep your security tight and if anything else happens - any men hanging around outside your house, or bricks through windows - come down to the office. I’m sorry.”
Nikki took a wavering breath and said, “No. It’s ok. Thank you. Goodbye.” She pressed the butt to hang up and set the phone back down on the table. She was on her own. She had the sudden urge to run in Noah’s room and scoop his tiny frame into her arms, and to hug him until he woke and looked up at her with his glowing brown eyes, full of love and innocence. She was alone. She was blooming alone.
Ring. Ring. Ring.
Nikki blinked and looked at the phone. The police. Maybe they were calling back, telling her there had been a mistake. Her heart leapt, and she grabbed the phone.
“Nicola? Are you there?” The voice was rasping, tired sounding, and Nikki’s heart dropped like a stone.
“What do you want?” she said flatly.
“The same thing I always want.”
“Well, you’re not getting it. Goodbye, dad. Leave me alone.”
“No! Don’t go, Nicola. Please. I just want to talk to my daughter. That’s all.” Her dad coughed. “Please don’t go.”
“Are you going to talk to me, or guilt trip me, dad? You always say the former, but the latter comes about fairly quickly.”
“Talk, that’s all I want. A nice chat with my child. H-how are you? You sound a bit tense.”
Nikki paused, a frown on her face. She threw a glance at the wine on the table and fought the urge to go drink the rest of the bottle. “I’m fine. I just can’t be bothered with your shit, that’s all.”
There was a sigh, and another cough. “Look, I’m sorry, Nicola. I’m sorry for what I did, and I’m trying so hard to just make the peace with you, to make everything better.”
Nikki took a breath and bit her tongue. She felt like she was spitting fire, words burning her tongue as they came shooting out of her mouth. They were lined with poison and acid, and she hoped her father could feel them sting as he listened. “Well, you’re too late, dad. You’re dead to me. I hate you and if it were my choice I’d block this number. But I can’t, cause guess what dad, I tried, and they told me it wasn’t allowed. I didn’t mean to pick up the phone. I didn’t mean to talk to you. Now, hang up, or I will.”
“Nicola, be reasonable. I know you’re going through a tough time. I know everything’s hard for you, what with the little boy and-”
“His name’s Noah.”
“Fine, Noah then. I know you’re stressed, but please just listen to me.”
“What would I want to do that, Dad? Why on earth would I want to hear you beg, and plead and grovel, when we both know it’s all in vain? I don’t want to listen, Dad. Now, go away. Never phone me again. Leave me alone!”
There was a pause and another sigh. “This happens every time I call, Nicola. Why can’t we act like adults for once?”
“Because we’re not adults. If you were an adult, you wouldn’t have got yourself in the mess you’re in, and if I were an adult, I wouldn’t be talking to you. So, would you rather we acted like adults? I’ll hang up first.” Nikki could feel the anger quaking through her, running up and down her spine and through her mouth in rushes, torrents. “I never want to talk to you again. Leave me alone!”
“Nicola. Please. I love you. Just forgive me. I’m so full of guilt all the time, I’m so sorry for what I did, please forgive me...please...”
Nikki scoffed and shook her head. “Save the crap for later. You’re not sorry. You never were sorry. Look, dad, I’ve got to much rubbish going on in my life just now to pay attention to you and your stupid games of guilt and love and forgiveness. I really can’t be bothered dealing with you. So, pee off.”
“I-I know you-you‘re going through a bad time, darling, what with the boy and your work and the manuscript and everything. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Nikki narrowed her eyes and her heart stopped hammering as loudly. The anger had ceased to flow - it was now solid ice in her veins. “What did you just say?” she menaced, her voice cracking as she spoke. “What ‘manuscript’?”
There was a pause. “I-I didn’t say anything about a manuscript, darling.” Her father’s voice shook, and the anger started flowing once more.
“Yes, you did. Who told you? How do you know about that? Did one of your little friends send it? Eh? One of your prison buddies?” She cackled and breathed out through a gap in her teeth. “You’re scum. Telling one of your wee buddies about my life, just so you can have someone to comfort when the phone stops ringing. Who was it? WHO?”
“I-it was no one, Nicola. I didn’t tell anyone, I didn’t say anything about a manuscript...” The voice trailed off, getting weaker and weaker.
“You’re lying. You told someone, I know you did. Who? I can have them arrested you know. I can have you arrested for helping them. I’ve been terrified, and what for? For you to comfort? You’re not getting me back, and if this is your idea of a sick joke, then stuff you. I hate you. You aren’t my dad. I don’t blooming know you.”
“Nicola, wait...I can explain...”
Nikki felt the anger swell in her chest. “My name is NIKKI! NIKKI! Nicola was what I called when I knew you. Now, hang up. HANG UP!”
The sound exploded through the phone, ricocheting off the crevices in Nikki’s ear. It echoed and stung - the resounding sound of defiance. Nikki held the phone away from her ear. She had never heard her father so angry before, so full of bottled rage. “NO! I will not hang up. You ungrateful brat of a child. I have been trying for so long to get you to listen, to se reason, and you know what, I’m going to give up. I phone you every day - why? All I get is abuse, stinging, painful abuse from the hands of my only daughter. I phone you, because you’re the only thing I have to live for. We’ve always pulled through, you and me, and after one mistake I made trying to get you a better life, you disown me. I phone you, and guess what, Sherlock, I wrote the bloody manuscript. Read between the lines. We always pull through. We always love each other. I was washing my car when you broke your finger and almost broke your spine. I was sitting on the beach as you surfed the angry waves off the coast of Scotland. Remember. I was always there for you...and you were never there for me.” The voice started sobbing, hiccupping in time to Nikki’s thudding heart.
“I love you. I loved both you and Rodney so much. Rodney won’t speak to me. He hasn’t even answered any of my calls since this whole thing started. Without your mother, I was so lonely, and you two were always there to make me feel better. Now, neither of you are. I was trying to get you back, sweetheart. I was trying to show you how much I love you. So I wrote your biography and sent it to your office. I thought you would recognize the speech, the way I worded the sentences. I thought you would know. You obviously didn’t. I’m so sorry, darling. I never meant to hurt you. I-I love you.”
Nikki swallowed. “Goodbye.”
There was a beep and then, silence.